Nonviolent Action around the World – 20 May 2009 (Part 1)

May 20, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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AFRICA

Zimbabwe: WOZA protests failures of unity government
By: Violet Gonda, SW Radio Africa, May 18, 2009
Over 1 000 members of the pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise took to the streets in four separate demonstrations, that merged at the government complex in Bulawayo on Monday. WOZA spokesperson Annie Sibanda said the aim of the protests was to highlight the failures of the first 100 days of the power sharing government and the fact that very little progress had been made in the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.
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Zimbabwe newsman ready to try again
By: Robyn Dixon, LA Times, May 18, 2009
Barnabas Thondhlana, who worked for the independent Daily News before it was forced to close in 2003, prepares to launch NewsDay, the first major test of media freedom under the new unity government. Boss Barns, as he’s fondly known to his colleagues and drinking pals at the Quill Club, was there on the day in 2003 when armed police shut down the country’s last independent daily paper, the Daily News. They ordered the journalists out and put a padlock as big as his hand on the front door.
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Zimbabwe: 15 MDC youths arrested
By: Lizwe Sebatha, ZimOnline, May 18, 2009
Fifteen youths from the former opposition MDC formations were arrested as an attempt to form a national youth council collapsed in violence at the weekend in Zimbabwe’s second largest city of Bulawayo. According to witnesses elections to choose a new inclusive Zimbabwe Youth Council (ZYC) to mirror the unity government between the MDC and President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party had to be called off after violence broke out between the two groups.
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Shack dwellers fight demolition in S. Africa court
By: OneWorld, May 15, 2009
As South Africa prepares for the 2010 soccer World Cup, the government has made plans to develop ‘World Class Cities’ by eliminating the ‘slums’ which are home to millions,” explains the economic justice group War on Want. On Thursday, Abahlali baseMjondolo (ABM), a Durban-based shack-dweller movement, challenged the so-called Slums Act in South Africa’s Constitutional Court, continuing its campaign for improved living condiditons and against involuntary removal.
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The messiah within: Redeeming the soul of the Kenyan nation
By: Njonjo Mue, Pambazuka News, May 14, 2009
As Kenyans struggle to find meaning in the protracted troubles surrounding their body politic, Njonjo Mue challenges the nation’s youth to join an army of ordinary people to fight the good fight and to defend Kenyans’ freedom, dignity, heritage and their children’s future by engaging in brutal self-appraisal and refusing to permit decay.
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AMERICAS

U.S.: New York Times falsifies Obama-Netanyahu meeting
By: David Bromwich, Huffington Post, May 19, 2009
The Times made this meeting into a story about Iran. They read into Obama’s careful and measured remarks exactly the hostile intention toward Iran and the explicit deadline for results from his negotiations with Iran that Obama had taken great pains to avoid stating. President Obama sounded a more urgent note about the progress Israel ought to make in yielding what it long has promised to the Palestinian people. In the Times story, by contrast, the word Iran occurs three times before the first mention of “Palestinians.”
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Peru army moves into Amazon after tribes blockade rivers and roads
By: Rory Carroll, Guardian UK, May 18, 2009
Peru’s army is poised to deploy in the Amazon rainforest to lift blockades across rivers and roads by indigenous people opposed to oil, gas, logging and mining projects. The government has authorised the military to move into remote provinces where a state of emergency has been declared in the wake of a month-long stand-off between indigenous people and police. In the past two years the centre-right government has signed deals with multinationals to open swaths of rainforest, including a £1.3bn agreement last month with the Anglo-French oil company Perenco.
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Venezuela: Some media hail everything the opposition does
By: El Universal, May 18, 2009
Gabriela Ramírez, the Venezuelan ombudswoman, proposed on Monday to revise the radio and TV media whose editorial policies “damage the state and create anxiety.” Ramírez thinks that it is possible to review the licenses granted to radio and TV stations involved in abusive acts and practices against the provisions of the concessions, DPA reported. Her warning came amidst tensions related to impending penalties against private TV news network Globovisión, which is accused by Venezuelan authorities of conspiring and promoting “media terrorism.”
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Hunger strike over, Cuban plans new protest
By: Frances Robles, Miami Herald, May 15, 2009
The Cuban activist who gave up solid food for nearly three months in a protest over prison and housing conditions ended his hunger strike Thursday, and vowed to launch an in-your-face campaign against the government that does not damage his health. Former political prisoner Jorge Luis ”Antúnez” García gave up eating Feb. 17 in a quest to force the government to fix the house his sister lost to a hurricane last year and improve his brother-in-law’s prison conditions.
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Guatemala: For democracy to flourish, it has to be a culture as well as a process
By: Isabel Hilton, openDemocracy, May 15, 2009
Behind the high walls of a hotel in Antigua, democracy did a little redefining of its own. It was precipitated by an event unusual even for Guatemala: the distribution at the funeral of a murder victim of a video in which the deceased, a respected lawyer, accused the president, his wife and his secretary of organising not only his own murder – he was shot on the streets of Guatemala City while riding his bicycle on Sunday – but the murders earlier in the year of two of his clients.
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Colombia: Victims of state crimes speak out
By: Constanza Vieira, IPS, May 14, 2009
In the midst of civil war and repression in San Vicente del Caguán, a municipality in southern Colombia, local communities and activists continue to hold forums to draw attention to human rights abuses. What keeps them going? The same answer came, separately, from two local community leaders: “Because there are only three possibilities – either we are ‘disappeared’ or killed, as is happening now. Or they throw us in jail, like they have already done.”
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ASIA/SOUTH ASIA
Sri Lanka: New non-violent group should replace LTTE- Tamil leader
By: Dipankar De Sarkar, World Latest News, May 19, 2009
A new democratically-minded and non-violent group is needed to win the aspirations of Tamils in Sri Lanka following the defeat of the LTTE, a leading member of the Tamil diaspora in Britain said Monday. “At the moment, there is mourning everywhere among the (Tamil) diaspora, but once we have had time to mourn and hold our memorials, we should sit down and chalk out the way forward,” said Thaya Idaikkadar, chairman of the British Tamil Councillors and Associates (BTCA).
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Young Pakistanis take problem into their own hands
By: Sabrina Tavernise, NY Times, May 18, 2009
A group of young Pakistani friends, sick of hearing their families complain about the government, decided to spite them by taking matters into their own hands: every Sunday they would grab shovels, go out into their city, and pick up garbage. The students were inspired by the recent success of the lawyers’ movement, which used a national protest to press the government to reinstate the country’s chief justice, and their rush of public consciousness was irrepressible.
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Malaysia: ‘When all else fails, we will turn to people’s power’
By: Humayun Kabir, Malaysiakini, May 18, 2009
Pakatan Rakyat will turn to the ‘people’s court’ for judgement after all avenues are exhausted in their endeavour to dissolve the state legislative assembly and call for fresh state elections. Pakatan Rakyat Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin told Malaysiakini: ‘We will turn to the people’s court if all our options to dissolve the assembly fails.’
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Thailand: Activists protest against Suu Kyi’s trial in front of Burmese embassy
By: Usa Pichai, Mizzima, May 18, 2009
International and Thai activists gathered in front of the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok and urged the Thailand Government as well as ASEAN to take action against Burma. Members of the Peace for Burma network and Amnesty International, Thailand, gathered in front of the Burmese Embassy in Bangkok, and urged the United Nations Security Council, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to demand the release of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
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Burma opposition leader Suu Kyi placed on trial
By: Daniel Ten Kate and Ed Johnson, Bloomberg, May 18, 2009
Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi went on trial today accused of breaching her house arrest order as the junta moves to put her in jail before next year’s election, pro-democracy campaigners said. The military regime deployed hundreds of riot police and militiamen around Insein Prison in the former capital, Yangon, for the hearing, said Khin Ohmar of the Thailand-based Burma Partnership.
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China: “Gorbachev meets Deng in Beijing, protests grow” – anniversary article
By: China Digital Times, May 17, 2009
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the nationwide, student-led democracy movement in China, and the subsequent June 4th military crackdown in Beijing. To commemorate the student movement, CDT is posting a series of original news articles from 1989, beginning with the death of Hu Yaobang on April 15 and continuing through the tumultuous spring. From the May 16, 1989 New York Times: “Deng Xiaoping and Mikhail S. Gorbachev shook hands today to signal the formal end of three decades of hostility between China and the Soviet Union.”
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China: All eyes inward
By: Sonia Kolesnikob-Jessop, Newsweek, May 16, 2009
Until recently, the way Chinese artists got famous was to talk politics. Though still hot, those new-wave artists are giving way to a very different group: the “me-first” generation, whose members talk about each other and themselves. Born in the 1980s under China’s one-child policy, they were still children during Tiananmen and are much less interested in politics and far more concerned with individuality.
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Burma: After years of isolation, a dissident still torments her tormentors
By: Seth Mydans, NY Times, May 15, 2009
“Why are you so afraid of us?” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi called out, taunting the military government of Myanmar as thousands of rapturous supporters listened in the rain, whistling and cheering from under a sea of black umbrellas. That was 13 years ago, during a temporary period of freedom from house arrest, and Mrs. Aung San Suu Kyi was putting into words the dynamic that has kept her under detention for most of the past two decades.
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China: Beijing dissident Jiang Qisheng taken away for interrogation, second time within two months
By: Chinese Human Rights Defenders, May 15, 2009
At about 5:40 in the afternoon on May 15, officers from the National Security Unit under the Haidian District Public Security Bureau in Beijing summoned and searched the home of Dr. Jiang Qisheng, a former 1989 prisoner, dissident writer, and vice-chairman of Independent Chinese PEN. According to Jiang’s wife, Zhang Hong, police displayed a summons notice and a search warrant, and confiscated his computer, books, and most recent manuscripts.
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Burma: Growing restrictions on free flow of information
By: Reporters Without Borders, May 15, 2009
Reporters Without Borders condemns a new wave of obstacles that Burma’s military government has imposed on Internet usage as well as its expulsion of two American journalism teachers on 6 May. It is getting steadily harder for Burmese to send emails or access websites while all means of communication were cut yesterday around opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s home.
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Cambodia: Activist parliamentarian may drop lawsuit against Prime Minister
By: Chhunny Chhean, Global Voices, May 14, 2009
Mu Sochua is an internationally recognized activist and Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) member of the Cambodian National Assembly. She recently filed a lawsuit against the country’s prime minister, Hun Sen, for defamatory comments he made in April 2009. Subsequently, Hun Sen filed a countersuit against Mu Sochua, also for defamation. Mu Sochua was recently a guest on VOA Khmer, where she announced that she would consider dropping her lawsuit. “To protect the country, if both sides agree to withdraw the complaints, I agree,” Mu Sochua said.
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China’s coming struggle for power
By: Kerry Brown, openDemocracy, May 14, 2009
A senior official told me: “There is now a very active power-struggle going on in the upper reaches of the party”. True, the party has many problems to tend to, and the last thing it wants is a large, open, and heated fight. The game-plan will be to keep the political competition and personal rivalries as far out of public sight as feasible. But the differences between the figures now jostling to replace the current president and prime minister – Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao – may make that unrealistic.
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CENTRAL ASIA

Uzbekistan: Prominent lawyers to lose their licenses for ‘unprofessional performance’
By: A. Volosevich, Ferghana, May 18, 2009
Prominent Tashkent-based lawyers that protected independent journalists, human rights activists, opposition members, religious leaders and sufferers of illegal actions, will lose their licenses for the reason that they failed to pass “merit rating”, conducted by the authorities. They both are lawyers with many years of experience. They have been put on the black list of ruling elite long ago since they were brave enough to show the complex nature of many criminal cases.
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Turkmenistan grants mass prisoner pardon
By: Isabel Gorst, FT, May 17, 2009
The president of Turkmenistan pardoned 1,671 prisoners on Friday, in a move that appeared designed to appease international concern about the country’s abysmal human rights record. The amnesty, granted on the eve of Turkmenistan’s day of National Revival and Unity, was a “tribute to the ancient humanitarian traditions of the nation enshrined in the constitution,” Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, Turkmenistan’s president, told state television.
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Outcry in Azerbaijan after student protest broken up
By: Sabina Vaqifqizi and Shahin Rzayev, IWPR, May 15, 2009
Activists in Azerbaijan have accused police of acting illegally in their heavy-handed break-up of a student protest at the weekend, when 50 protesters were detained. During the protest on May 10, angry students in black shirts disrupted the Holiday of Flowers, a Baku commemoration of the birth of Azerbaijan’s ex-president, Heydar Aliev, prompting the police crackdown.
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